Looking at the balance between companies outperforming and underperforming, there is a clear feeling of success at moving to a digitally enabled business (37% more say outperformed as opposed to underperformed), responding to risks in real time (+27%), innovation of new products and services (+14%) and operational stability (+19%). Digital transformation and operational stability also had the highest number of respondents with a positive view. These are aspects of managing to keep the business going through the crisis. Executives are expressing relief at surviving the initial shocks of the pandemic and celebrating continuity.
The reality is probably better reflected where there is more balance in financial performance (+1%) and customer engagement (+6%). With revenue and profit hit so dramatically across the board, it would be surprising to see so many individual companies benefiting compared with competitors struggling within the same harsh environment.
Executives also recognize the need to engage across a broader group of stakeholders, including employees, consumers and society, as capital and talent will shift from organizations that create value only for their shareholders to those that create long-term, sustainable and inclusive value.
CEOs and boards will need to continually assess and benchmark their performance as new data becomes available. Bridging the perception gap between operational and financial performance will enable them to better understand what worked and what didn’t — and provide firmer foundations for future improvements.
That companies managed to pivot quickly, especially in the early days of the pandemic, is impressive. That flexibility and innovative mindset will be key to future plans.
The response to the pandemic will be forward-looking and bold, as companies plan to hold or increase investment across the organization.
We know companies that invested in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis (GFC) reaped benefits in the upturn. While the current pandemic is fundamentally different from the GFC, similar opportunities will emerge as economic activity returns to normal.